Posts Tagged ‘MA’

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Near the end of Reagan’s first term, the Western Massachusetts Hardcore scene coughed up an insanely shaped chunk called Dinosaur. Comprised of WMHC vets, the trio was a miasmic tornado of guitar noise, bad attitude and near-subliminal pop-based-shape-shifting. Through their existence, Dinosaur (amended to Dinosaur Jr. for legal reasons) defined a very specific, very aggressive set of oblique song-based responses to what was going on. Their one constant was the scalp-fryingly loud guitar and deeply buried vocals of J Mascis.

Sure, Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis isn’t reinventing the wheel with this latest release, but that’s because he invented the wheel. Where was your outrage when Thomas Edison refused to redesign the light bulb? Exactly. This here is the title track off his latest solo record of the same name, released just last week.

Like its predecessors, Elastic Days was recorded at J’s own Bisquiteen studio. Mascis does almost all his own stunts, although Ken Miauri (who also appeared on Tied to a Star) plays keyboards and there are a few guest vocal spots. These include old mates Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), and Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion, etc.), as well as the newly added voice of Zoë Randell (Luluc)  among others. But the show is mostly J’s and J’s alone.

He laughs when I tell him I’m surprised by how melodic his vocals seem to have gotten. Asked if that was intentional, he says, “No. I took some singing lessons and do vocal warm-ups now, but that was mostly just to keep from blowing out my vocal cords when Dino started touring again. The biggest difference with this record might have to do with the drums. I’d just got a new drum set I was really excited about. I don’t have too many drum outlets at the moment, so I played a lot more drums than I’d originally planned. I just kept playing. [laughs] I’d play the acoustic guitar parts then head right to the drums.”

Elastic Days brims with great moments. Epic hooks that snare you in surprisingly subtle ways, guitar textures that slide against each other like old lovers, and structures that range from a neo-power-ballad (“Web So Dense”) to jazzily-canted West Coasty post-psych (“Give It Off”) to a track that subliminally recalls the keyboard approach of Scott Thurston-era Stooges (“Drop Me”). The album plays out with a combination of holism and variety that is certain to set many brains ablaze.

J says he’ll be taking this album on the road later in the year. He’ll be playing by himself, but unlike other solo tours he says he’ll be standing up this time. “I used to just sit down and build a little fort around myself – amps, music stands, drinks stands, all that stuff. But I just realized it sounds better if the amps are higher up because I’m so used to playing with stacks. So I’ll stand this time.” I ask if it’s not pretty weird to stand alone on a big stage. “Yeah,” he says. “But it’s weird sitting down too.” Ha. Good point. One needs to be elastic. In all things.

There is plenty of drumming on the dozen songs on Elastic Days. But for those expecting the hallucinatory overload of Dinosaur Jr’s live attack, the gentleness of the approach here will draw easy comparisons to Neil Young’s binary approach to working solo versus working with Crazy Horse.

Elastic Days (Release Date: November 9th, 2018)

Darlingside - Eschaton

Folk-rock quartet Darlingside have enjoyed astronomical success in the UK since their 2016 release Birds Say. “Eschaton,” the band’s single from their recently released sophomore album entitled Extralife, meanders away from their bleary-eyed first release and explores a more electric sound. Campy synth sounds and electric guitars accompany Darlingside’s quintessential organic vocal harmony.

Darlingside (Don Mitchell, Auyon Mukharji, Harris Paseltiner, and David Senft) are a Massachusetts-based ensemble whose sound is an eclectic blend of 60s folk, clever wry wit, classical arrangements, soaring harmonies, and a modern indie-rock sensibility. The four vocalists and multi-instrumentalists construct every piece collaboratively, pooling ideas so that each song bears the imprint of four different writing voices. Playful vocal permutations swing from four-part unison to CSNY-inspired group harmonies, underpinned by rich, carefully crafted soundscapes. The final product threads the collective memory of the four songwriters, nodding to the music of their parents’ generation while establishing a sound that is all their own.

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Band Members
Auyon Mukharji, David Senft, Harris Paseltiner, Don Mitchell

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Death and grief are universal, but on Boston band Vundabar’s Smell Smoke, these themes feel timelier than ever. In 2018, as each day in America offers a new and urgent political crisis, societal problems find ways to seep into our daily routines and private lives. For Brandon Hagen, the past few years have been impossibly difficult; while making music and touring with his busy and pretty successful rock band, Hagen found himself forced to care for a dying loved one. That unfortunately very real, and very relatable pain fueled Vundabar’s most recent release, a feverish collection of personal and political turmoil that highlights the many flaws of modern culture.

During their recent Paste studio session, Vundabar played three songs from the new album “Smell Smoke”, including deceptively jaunty album opener “Acetone.” In the track’s video, Hagen dances around a grave, but he’s the one eventually buried inside it. “Acetone,” about fake “bleached personas,” suggests the dark fate of someone who is detaching from reality. Other tracks like  “Big Funny” tackles the controversial topic of American healthcare. “Hospital receipts, they make a coffin seem so cheap,” Hagen sings. “It’s just wild,” Hagen said “When we go to other countries that have really solid government programs for healthcare and art and everything… how don’t we have this yet? I don’t know.”

Vundabar“Acetone” Recorded Live Version: 1/3/2018 – Paste Studios – New York, NY

The sophomore album from Boston trio Palehound, “A Place I’ll Always Go”, is a frank look at love and loss, cushioned by indelible hooks and gently propulsive, fuzzed-out rock.

Ellen Kempner, Palehound’s vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter explains, “A lot of it is about loss and learning how to let yourself evolve past the pain and the weird guilt that comes along with grief.”
Kempner’s writing comes from upheavals she experienced in 2015 and 2016 that reframed her worldview. “I lost two people I was really close with,” she recalls. “I lost my friend Lily. I lost my grandmother too, but you expect that at 22. When you lose a friend—a young friend—nothing can prepare you for that. A lot of the record is about going on with your life, while knowing that person is missing what’s happening—they loved music and they’re missing these great records that come out, and they’re missing these shows that they would’ve wanted to go to. It just threw me for a loop to know that life is so fragile.”
Palehound’s first release for Polyviny

“If You Met Her” is taken from Palehound’s new album, A Place I’ll Always Go, out June 16th, 2017.